Gardnerville, NV -> Big Bend, TX, or what I did for my Fall Vacation

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by kdxkawboy, Oct 17, 2006.

  1. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,631
    Location:
    Gardnerville, Nv
    Up ahead I can make out a coyote strolling across the highway. I rolled off the throttle as she paused to give me a good look before padding over
    to the shoulder where she sat and watched as I thumped by. This far out in the middle of lonesome Nevada most coyotes are skittish, odd this
    one showed such an interest. I figured it to be good medicine.

    I was off for a two week trip that I'd mostly make up as I went. The only goal in mind was to reach the Big Bend National Park down on the Rio
    Grande. Between home and there I figured to explore the country. I'm a big fan of westerns, currently working through all Louis L'amours books,
    again. Most of them are set somewhere in the southwest and he usually adds a short note that fills you in on the actual people and places the
    story was built around. For years I've just wanted to go out and find some of those places and this figured to be as good a time as any to get it done.

    So that morning I'd loaded up the KLR and headed for Pioche, a 450 mile run. That's about a seven hour run with a KLR and after packing the bike
    I still had nine hours of daylight to do it in. Out on the highway I'm running over my road song in my head -
    Just a ridin', a ridin',
    desert rippling in the sun
    Mountains blue along the skyline,
    who can envy anyone When I'm ridin'

    Just a ridin', a ridin',
    who could envy kings and czars
    When the coyotes down the valley
    are a singing to the stars While I'm ridin'

    Its a little bit of cowboy poetry someone put to music, but it feels like a motorcycle song when it starts talking -
    Just a ridin', a ridin',
    spliting long cracks in the air
    Stiring up a baby cyclone,
    ripping up the prickly pear When I'm ridin'

    Between this and singing old Gene Autrey tunes it doesn't take long to set the ride's mood as I'm rolling across the Nevada Landscape. It may be
    a motorcycle, but in my mind I'm just a kawboy, a lone drifting rider. On US50 I'm mostly following the old Pony Express Trail and I drift off thinking
    what it was like in those days. But for the highway, things haven't changed that much out here. I wonder if coyotes ever gave the express riders the
    curious stare I got?

    Most folks have this idea that all Nevada looks like I80 or Vegas, but you get off the beaten paths and there is some handsome country of these
    endless valleys rimmed by high mountains. The valleys are covered in sage, rabbit brush, desert peach, bitter brush. It looks dry, but you see coyotes,
    mustangs, pronghorns and they must be ranging from waterholes we don't see. In the spring and fall its easier to spot the water by the cottonwoods
    and quakies growing around it. Its good cattle country. Most the valleys have spots the ranchers can mow hay for winter feed, just need a lot land
    to run them. All day long I pass working cowboys starting the fall round up or fixing fences on the winter range. And they all waved howdy.

    And when you tire of being a cowboy, you can always look at those mountains and start wondering how high they were before most of them melted
    into the valleys. Back when these mountains were formed, these valleys were deep fault lines. Eons of rain have washed the tops of the mountains
    into these clefts until they have filled to become these broad flats. Look at the side of the hills and you can see this still happening today in the alluvial
    fans spreading out from the mouth of every canyon. And it's all that uplift that explains how you find water in Nevada. The water seeps underground
    until it meets the face of an uplift that is impermeable to water, and there it pools and seeps out as a spring. In the old west, getting through country
    like this was mostly understanding how the wildlife ranged out from a water hole and then finding the animals to find the water.

    This is how my rides go. The ride is just the stage my thoughts play out on. A habit I picked up from learning about real cowboys. Listen to a real cowboy
    long enough and he'll eventually get around to talking about the pleasures of being out in some of god's finest country with nothing but your own thoughts.
    A cowboy may have been short on book learning, but it didn't mean he was short on smarts. He had the time to chew on something long enough to usually
    come up with the right answer. On this trip I hoped to connect somehow with the old west and mull on what it was like for them, in those days. If it sounds
    like an interesting journey, come along for the next few days as I blog this thing out, with pictures - I skipped the picture taking this day but I nearly filled
    a 1GB memory card so I've got pictures.

    Anyway, I made Pioche just short of dark. All I knew was there were three hotels in town. The first was for sale, the second looked like small town dive,
    but the last was the Overland Hotel. They had but one room, three beds, $85. Wasn't really a room, but a suite. It had a sitting room, a dressing parlor,
    a bathroom and the two beds in one room and the king bed in another, each with its own TV. And clean. And, as a perk, the bar is just downstairs. Definitely
    recommend this, think $85 split 3 ways for a great room. After going across the street to the local dinner for a meal I enjoyed many a glass of muscle
    relaxant before going upstairs to plan the next day. After mulling over the possibilities within 300 miles of Pioche I settled on heading for the Robbers Roost,
    a favorite haunt of Butch Cassidy. It will take me a day to get there, and then I can use a free day to go explore the Roost. And we will get to the Roost
    tomorrow.

    And, here's a view of Pioche from the south -
    [​IMG]
    In its hay day Pioche was known to be the baddest of the bad mining camps. While I didn't have the time on this trip, Pioche lies in the heart of an old
    mining district. There are a dozen old ghost towns. It would be real easy to spend a couple of days playing on the dirt roads out here.
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    67,826
    Looks like your Fall vacation on the KLR was a good one :thumb
    #2
  3. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,631
    Location:
    Gardnerville, Nv
    After another fine meal in Pioche's only diner I head out for SR319 and the Utah state line. Wasn't but a short ride until . . .
    [​IMG]
    At the state line 319 becomes Utah SR59. It was a short run to Modena where I started my day of dirt. I headed out the Modena Canyon Road, which becomes
    the Hamlin Valley Road. That's my idea of adventure touring, use the pavement to get to the good dirt.
    [​IMG]
    This is what it's about. Get off the beaten path, away from all the pilgrims where its just you, your bike and this big empty.
    [​IMG]
    Odd thing, this spot is the only place I met another person, a rancher hauling his horse to work, and a right timely meeting it was. When I stopped, I got the side
    stand on some ground a little to high and toppled over the other way just as he pulled up to help. After he left I rolled a cigarette and pulled out a book of cowboy poetry -

    There aint nothing like the feeling
    that you get down deep inside
    As you trot out in the morning
    when ya've hired out to ride

    And your mount is enthusiastic
    and the air is crisp and new
    And there's lively conversation
    going on amongst the crew

    There's some bridle crickets chirping,
    jingle bobs tap out a tune
    On one side the sun is rising
    just ahead there sets the moon

    Shadows high trot there beside you
    elongated keeping pace
    Reassuring you aint hobbled
    by restrictive time or space



    Words to fit the moment. Back in the day, we'd been a line of cowboys moving across this valley punching the cattle in front us, heading for the winter range. Crossing
    this valley its easy to dream yourself into the saddle of a zebra dun loping through the sage. And I start looking at this landscape through his eyes. Out among the
    sage are clumps of rice grass, mighty good feed for cattle. The hills surrounding this valley will serve as natural fencing holding the cattle to the valley.
    Scanning the hills . . .
    [​IMG]
    . . . and there's sign of water up there. Build a few tanks to hold the runoff , find the low spots in the valley and improve some tanks there to hold the runoff from
    the summer thunder storms. Yep, you could set up a right proper ranch here. Got all them miners back in Pioche and they'd sure be hungering for some fat beef
    steaks. Most ranches out west were started by cowboys driving a herd until they found a natural range near a ready market. If the winter didn't freeze you and the
    summer fry you, you just might make out.

    Further out I turned off Hamlin Valley Road to catch Cougar Spar Road into Milford on SR21. It took me through the Indian Peak Range and over the southern end of
    the Wah Wah Mountains. It got me back into the tall timber and aspens. Fantastic scenery.
    [​IMG]
    This was turning into a wondrous day. As I climbed into the mountains I started seeing red tail hawks soaring overhead, the wind picked up, the road became
    covered in aspen leaves as I road through the groves. I'd hit the road with perfect timing to catch the leaves turning, between the first cold snap and the
    first big wind.
    [​IMG]

    Wondrous day. Every turn brought a new vista. Who could ask for better? There is the wanderlust in me, I have the itch to see what's over the next mountain and
    around the next bend. Just a lone drifting cowboy riding the chuck line, stopping just long enough to build a grub stake to drift some more.
    Just a ridin', a ridin',
    desert rippling in the sun
    Mountains blue along the skyline
    who can envy anyone when I'm ridin'

    Down in Miford I follow SR21 over to Beaver to pick up SR153 to SR62 and on to SR24. It was just more of the same of being a great day to ride.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    This is out on 153, just north of Circleville, home of Leroy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy. It was out in valleys like this young Leroy started working with a
    rustler named Mike Cassidy. They would take cattle and run them into the breaks above Bryce Canyon. When they had enough cattle stashed they would run them
    across Capitol Reef and into Robbers Roost to rest them up before taking them onto the mining camps in Colorado. For the rest of the day I'll be riding through places
    that show up in the story of Butch Cassidy and I'm finally on the trail of a real western outlaw, out on the owl hoot trails.

    Back in the day, men like Mike Cassidy and Leroy Parker were talked about as being a little on the rustle. Seems as long you had the knack for being a good old boy,
    folks were willing to stop short of calling you a rustler. Rather, it was a tolerated side job. Being the job was mostly swing shift work, when the owls were out, you
    could politely point out an rustler as someone riding the trail when the owl's were hooting. By staying away from the stock of the little guys they found some natural
    allies. By nightfall I'll be on the edge of the Owl Hoot Trail, Canada to Mexico via Hole in the Wall, Brown's Hole and Robbers Roost. And I'm riding in their hoof prints.
    In the afternoon I came across this bit of dirt.
    [​IMG]
    There's a creek running just off to the right and the road follows the draw to the top. Just the way an outlaw might go. Climbing up the draw I was looking things
    over figuring how to use the terrain to confuse and hide any tracks, places I could stop and look at my back trail, places to camp where someone couldn't come on
    you by surprise, watching for the sign of other leaving creatures having passed through, looking to avoid ski lining myself crossing a ridge, looking for sign of smoke
    of dust columns, the things a man not wanting to be found, by the law or Indians, might do to survive. I was half expecting to meet one at any moment.

    The day finally ended in Torrey. I was on the edge of the canyon lands at last.
    [​IMG]
    I'm just east of Torrey looking towards Capitol Reef. The other side of the Reef is Robbers Roost, tomorrow's destination. The plans I worked out in Pioche called for
    laying up in Torrey for two nights so I spend an entire day exploring the Roost. If you are into this stuff, there is a great book titled Robbers Roost. It's written by a
    lady who grew up on a ranch in the middle of the Roost. Its mostly her recollections of the stories she heard connected with Butch Cassidy and the places in the Roost.
    Having studied this book I have done my homework and am ready for tomorrow's ride. BTW, when I can find a place to print that picture out, it should be about 5' long.
    I took a lot of shots using my camera's stitch mode. With this shot I finally mastered how to shoot 6-8 frames to be stitched together.
    #3
  4. ktmnate

    ktmnate Long timer

    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
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    3,092
    Location:
    Somewhere
    :lurk
    #4
  5. bobzilla

    bobzilla Dirty Old Man

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,204
    Location:
    Lost & Found again in the Great Basin
    Its nice to see some of my backyard through someone else's eyes :clap
    did you run a track?

    more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    #5
  6. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,631
    Location:
    Gardnerville, Nv
    I was up early. Scarfed a left over Subway sandwich and coffee for breakfast and hit the road for Capitol Reef and beyond. This was the day. Every since
    I learned there was this place called Robbers Roost at the north west end of the Grand Escalante National Recreation Area I have wanted to ride it. My
    goal was to get into the Robbers Roost Home Ranch and find the road up to the Robers Roost spring. This is where Mike Cassidy over nighted. This was
    where I could walk in the same dirt as Butch Cassidy, drink the same brackish water.

    If''n I could, I'd love to enter the Roost by what's called the Angel Trail. You go down Beaver Canyon and the Angel Trail runs up a steep draw coming
    onto the Roost at Deadman's Hill. Yep, Deadman's Hill. Seems one day Mike Cassidy was hotfooting for the Roost just hours ahead of the Posse. He beat
    them to the trail and tried a few well placed pot shots convinced the posse they did not want to follow him that trail and being it would takes day to get
    in by any other route they might as well go home. But the Posse had some sand and one of Mike's boy's was mortally wounded. This kid stayed at the top
    of the canyon, Deadman's Hill, keeping the Posse at bay until he succumbed to his wound. That was enough time for Mike to get the herd across the
    Roost flats. That's a true story. Was in all the local papers of the day. But that Angel Trail is so steep, its a hiking trail these days.

    So I was going to run down the east side of Capitol Reef NP and cross over to the Poison Springs Road which would bring in just south of the home ranch.
    The ride through Capitol Reef was a good wake up. No one else on the road, so early even the Visitor Center is closed. Coming through Fruita the orchards
    are chocked full of deer. After two days of riding under cloudy skies seeing the sun come up is a pleasure. Nothing to do but pull off the road, walk off a
    bit and listen to world waking up. You get used to nothing but natural sounds interesting how quickly anything stands out. I'm picking up another
    backwoods skill.

    Just west of the park is a paved road going to Notom. At Notom it turns to dirt and south of there are several roads running over to SR95. And if you
    want, it will connect with the Burr Ridge Trail. Folks, mark that in your book because this is the ultimate route to Boulder or Bull Frog. Not long after it
    became dirt I started running more of the Capitol Reef.
    [​IMG]
    If you haven't ridden this road you'd have no idea how far south the Park runs from the highway. The dirt part of the Notom Road runs thirty miles down
    the side of the Park. Off to your left are grand desert views, but on your right . . .
    [​IMG]
    And for a good thirty miles, where the Notom Road runs into the Burr Ridge Trail. At this point I figured this road was so sweet that tomorrow I'd come
    this way to Bullfrog to catch the ferry. With that out the way I studied the map to ponder how Mike Cassidy brought them cattle from Fruita to Beaver
    Canyon for most surely this road is crossing his path. Got to be looking for folds that would allow cattle to travel, fast. Doesn't take long to realize no way
    Cassidy got this far south. He'd of followed the Fremont River through the Reef, then across the Blue Flats, north of Thompson Peak and the head for
    Beaver Canyon. And I'm too far south to get back to 95 without going over the top of the Henry Mountains. That would be a great ride, but don't have
    the time today so I double back to find my road and mother's fudge cake, son of a sea biscuit it's a ranch road with a locked gate.Oh well, it was a good
    ride coming in so its going to be . . . .

    Back out to the highway, over to Hanksville and then a sprint down 95 to catch the Poison Spring Road. It was going to be twenty-five miles down to the
    crossing on the Dirty Devil and if the first few miles were an indication, it would be fun, And then the draw started to narrow until the road and the creek
    bed where one. And then and got down to were the creek had started coming out of the ground again and things turned ugly. But hey, I'm a cowboy,
    I've got sand, I can do it. And I tried until the about twelve miles in that I realized the boulders in the creek were telling me I had meet my match.
    [​IMG]
    Being in my Kilimanjaro I was showing the early signs of heat exhaustion. The creek only looked to keep getting bigger, the canyon walls showed sign of
    heavier flows and I was already in class 4 rock crawler terrain. So after a good hours rest, and that water was sweet and cool, it was back out for plan B,
    a road the map showed taking off just before 95 crossed the Colorado.

    Found the road and the BLM sign said it went to the Orange Cliffs. Sounds good. A couple miles in I came around a corner and OH MY GOD!
    [​IMG]
    The road veered to the left until it was at the base of the cliffs. Then it followed the base of the cliffs all the way around to the cliffs on the left, a big
    horse shoe bend drawn with a squiggly line. There was sand, rocks, slick rock, just a 2nd/3rd gear blast dancing the bike from line to line. This was
    my idea of nirvana.

    Well I need no art exhibit
    when the sunset does her best
    Painting ever lastin' glory
    on the mountains to the west

    And your oprey looks so foolish
    when the night bird's start his tune
    When the desert's silver mounted
    by the touches of the moon

    There is a mystic, a magic to this land. Either it grabs you by the balls or you'll never understand the attraction. For me, it starts with having grown up in
    the mountains where nature wears a green skirt. But out here, she's lifted her petticoats and she's quite the lady in her birthday suite. I could sit here
    all day and wonder where the time went. I could walk six feet in any direction and get a whole 'nother view. Circling around the base I'm going I need
    to capture this with a helmet cam, run it to the music from the Magnificent 7, that's what I'm hearing in my head now. Folks, it sounds trite, but this ride
    was getting better than sex, and it was going to be a 60 minute three peat.

    I'm thinking it can't get any better and then . . .
    [​IMG]
    Shades of Monument Valley! This is just getting better with each mile. And up ahead.
    [​IMG]
    In that farthest line on cliffs back the road will climb the cliffs. I wish I'd stopped at the bottom for a picture, but I figured to get some shots on the way up.
    Wrong. The road turned into class 5 rock crawler stuff and there was no where to stop until I was out on top.

    In the western genre, in country like this, the hero always finds an old Indian trail that winds its way up the face. It doesn't climb the shear face. Its a
    rare find of ledges and clefts that connect to form a trail that could be ridden to the top. It is such a trail Verne follows to safety in the climax of Riders
    of the Purple Sage and revisited in The Rainbow Trail. And today I was on such a trail. At the base I could see bits and pieces of where it had been burned
    in,
    hadn't been for that, you would have never seen the route. Would not have even known it was there unless you stumbled on it. As it went up, the ledges
    and clefts were barely wide enough to let the rock crawlers through and the first switchback is tight enough, steep enough to scare anyone else away.
    Once I started climbing there was no stopping on the 25-35% pitches. Switchbacks were so tight they showed sign of folks pulling in and backing out - to
    tight for even a CJ5! This trail would be best run in a converted Samurai.

    [​IMG]

    I can't even turn my head to enjoy the view, got to keep concentrating. Half way I understood how outlaws would be able to able off even the most
    determined posse trying to climb after them. Wouldn't take more than a few well aimed shots to convince even the baddest lawman it wasn't worth dieing
    for. No way you would get to the top alive. The outlaw was doing you a favor with warning shots. I'm getting that rush again. I'm in the Robbers Roost.
    I'm most certainly riding a branch of the Outlaw Trail and I'm knowing the stories of the particular outlaws that rode over this part of the trail. Up on top
    the road followed along the top edge of the cliff before swinging towards the Roost Flats.

    Robbers Roost is a large mesa. The Dirty Devil, Colorado and Green Rivers form the escarpments on the three sides. The back side slopes out into the
    San Rafael Desert. There are but a handful of trails in through the escarpments and until we had motorized vehicles, the San Rafael Desert was a natural
    barrier. Had to know your way in, easy to hold off anyone trying to get in. If the posse persisted, you'd grab another route as a back door. As the road
    saddled along the top of the cliffs I realized unless you were within 100 yards of the man you were following you would never know where he went.
    Unless you took the time to travel this land you would never know where these trails were.

    Now old Mike Cassidy, he was a top hand. Any ranch would pay top dollar to have him ride for their brand. And when he did, they would not have any
    worries about rustling, not from Mike or anyone else. Having other plans, Mike drifted from ranch to ranch looking for the right place. In the breaks above
    Bryce he found places that worked as natural corrals to hold his rustled stock. In the Roost he found a place that made it easy to shake any law. And if
    they did follow he figure to leave the cattle on the flats while he exited a back door. He passed his knowledge onto Butch Cassidy and others who passed
    it onto to others yet. But only to other cowboys that were a little on the rustle. Eventually ranchers entered the Roost. Being hard to get good hands,
    they welcomed men like Butch Cassidy, top hands that didn't shirk there work and there work never needed redoing. The outlaws, sliding back into the
    habits of a working cowboy was a good dodge. Far enough away from civilization the Marshall didn't casually ride by and the ranchers were a might cautious
    about approaching the Marshall in town. What did it matter to a rancher with a rawhide outfit that his best hand was a little liberal with a few rich men's
    money? Wasn't that how the rich man got it anyway?

    It was about this time I came out in the Roost Flats and it was heaven all over again. As far as my eye could see this was handsome cattle country. High
    enough to stay cool in the summer, far enough from the mountains not to be bothered by winter storms. The road turned into a dirt interstate and I hit
    freeway speeds. Flying across the flats in my mind the Wild Bunch is riding along with me. I'm not on my KLR and their not on horses. We're mounted
    on vintage Husky 360s doing the real cross country thing - okay, I grew up in the 60s and sometimes I can force a flashback or three, but this is my vacation
    and that was my fantasy de jour. By this time the sun was getting low and I was into riding off into the sunset and I'm booking and it wasn't until I reached
    the highway that I realized I'd not taken one picture of the flats.

    But I did pass two kids in a pickup with dirt bikes coming in the other way. They'd had a chance to watch my dust for a good bit and mostly could tell I
    was clipping along. As they got close enough to realize it was a KLR doing the 5th gear thing the passenger has his arm out the window flashing me the
    Hawaiian thumbs up. Back in Hanksville I fueled at the Store in the Rock and cruised back to Torrey, milking every last minute I could get out of this glorious
    day. I'm 50 something, been riding motorcycles since I was 15 and this was my best day ever on motorcycle.

    Quick note on Torrey. The Super 8 is MC friendly. You are invited to park out front under the covered entrance area and they provide towels for wiping
    your bike. When I got back, the desk clerk and I drank coffee and talked of the Roost for a good time.
    #6
  7. Walker Sky Ranch

    Walker Sky Ranch Riderdown.org

    Joined:
    May 30, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,346
    Location:
    Socialist Republic of Idyllwild
    WOW... an Awesome read!!!!!
    #7
  8. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    67,826
    Stunning photos and ride report. Thanks for posting :thumb
    #8
  9. rwamf

    rwamf Follow me

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,369
    Location:
    Odessa TX USA
    Good report, Glad to see you did Nevada the way it should be done.
    #9
  10. PackMule

    PackMule love what you do

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
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    19,493
    Location:
    New Hampshah
    Bangin' opening paragraph. :nod I've got a baby crying upstairs, but I'll be back for the rest... :lurk
    #10
  11. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,631
    Location:
    Gardnerville, Nv
    I had an unexpected surprise heading out the door this morning. I'd picked up my cup of coffee, rolled a smoke and gone outside to do the daily ritual:
    check tires, check and lube chain, check for any loose bolts, lights. Halfway out the door it struck me the pavement was blacker than I remembered. There
    had been a rain shower and looking up couldn't see stars and looking east could not see the crack of dawn. This could be trouble so back inside to watch
    the Weather Channel. With the perversity of southwest weather, most cable systems have the Weather Channel and the Weather channel is wired to
    show the local radar as part of the Local on the 8s, which also now includes the daily prediction for morning, noon, afternoon and evening.

    I'd been watching the night before and while they said something was coming my way, there was a good chance it wouldn't get to Torrey before the
    afternoon and by then then I should safely east of it all. Overnight, what had been a 30% chance of rain had evolved into a 100% reality. Looking at the
    radar, the only way to keep clear was to run north to Green River, but then you would need to run into Colorado to stay clear, which wasn't sounded
    like a wise move when the Sierras and mountains across Nevada had gotten snow a couple days before. I was caught. Weren't nothing left to do but suit
    up and make a run for Four Corners and clear skies. I was going to cover nearly 150 miles of road where the only spots to pull off would be Capitol Reef,
    Hanksville, Natural Bridges and then Blanding. Hanksville to Natural Bridges would be about 90 miles of that. The ride to Bullfrog would wait for another day.
    At least my bike would get her annual bath.

    [​IMG]

    Being born and breed in the mountains I was not caught flat footed. I had my Kilimanjaro jacket and Thor Ride pants to stay dry. Stashed in a corner
    of the panniers I had my extreme cold fleece long johns and a North Face Extreme Fleece Jacket to add under the Kilimanjaro's liner. From my days as a
    skier I have these two hand warmers. You fill them with lighter fluid, light the wick, put on the cap, put them in the felt bag and put the bag in pockets
    of one of your inner layers. They will burn a good 4-5 hours on a single fill. Then there was the wool ski hat turned into a neck warmer (unstitched the top and
    you have a heavy wool tube with an anti-itch band). And I had waterproof gauntlet gloves with stitched on wiper blade and thermal glove liners. At least staying mostly warm
    and dry was not going to be a problem.

    Out on the road, the rain wasn't too bad. It was more light showers than heavy, but then I was still being sheltered by Capitol Reef. As I cleared the Park,
    the rain still wasn't heavy, but it wasn't a shower either. I reached Hanksville, stopped at the local diner for breakfast and a last dry out before tackling
    the next stretch. Loved my waitress. She left the coffee pot on my table saying, 'Here hon, you look like you'll be wanting more. Back on the road, as I
    went south on 95 the rain just kept getting heavier until you had the typical desert thunder dumper where you can see the rain splashing in the standing
    water on the road, but at least you don't worry about GP1s hydroplaning.

    As I near the Poison Spring Road turnoff my thoughts turn to wondering what it looks like down in that canyon . . .
    [​IMG]
    I do not think you would want to be there about now. Figures this place was close to being a torrent, if not one already. Would not want to be caught
    in there today. Its just past this point that the highway starts dropping down to the Colorado and you are back into canyon lands. It was more of those
    great canyon lands vistas on top of vistas, just wasn't a day to catch any photos.

    But for the rain it was an amazing day to be in the canyon lands. I was watching the what has been carving these canyons through the ages. The slick
    rock is most definitely slick today. Its been raining long enough that every cleft at the top of the cliffs has a waterfall shooting from it.You can see the water
    sheeting off the rocks and into rivulets that come together to form creeks that merge into streams, along every foot more water is sheeting off the surrounding
    rocks. The low points are filling with water like a high tide coming in. And you start to notice the previous high water marks cause things are getting closer
    than farther from that, and it looked to be doing it right fast.

    In the rain the colors become so vivid, like going from B&W to technicolor. The oranges get deeper, the purples get brighter, and anything green is turning
    that rich jungle green. But for the rain it was a great ride and when I'm into the ride I'm amazed at what I just happen to see. Like turning your head at
    just the right moment to see an old ranch house buried in the trees, an deer leaping over a fence. I put a lot of time into practicing the zen of relaxing
    your vision to see everything but nothing in particular so the important things will just make themselves known and this makes the ride. Like today. I turn
    my head to look at the creek next to the road and just in time to catch the swell of its flood and ride by watching it fill the once dry creek, becoming a raging
    river. Out in front a few pools were starting to form in the creek bed and beyond was a flow of water three feet deep. The rare chance to safely watch
    a flash flood in action, if for a brief moment. But for the rain it was one of those days glorious days.

    Things were going along pretty good, until I was short of Natural Bridges and ran into hail. The hail storm had blown through far enough ahead of me that
    there were two good black tracks through the build up of white marbles on the highway, piled several inches thick. The problem was it was melting and I
    hit that super saturated, 100% humidity and within minutes the inside of my face shield was hopelessly fogged but for a couple of patches at the extreme
    corners. Had to tilt my head to point the patch down the road and see anything. Just as the hypothermia started setting in there was the sign saying
    Natural Bridges 8 miles. It was the only sanctuary in within an hours rides, if I could hold out the next ten minutes.

    I wonder what the rangers were thinking as I stripped down. I just waltzed in and started draping everything over the only chair in the lobby before
    pulling out my park pass to pay my dues. On a trip like this, one of the best things to do is pick up the annual Park Pass first chance you get. Its good
    for a year and on a trip like this more than likely you'll stop enough places to save some money. Mine's paid off and good until end of September next
    year. And on a day like today, at least I didn't have to fork over $5 for the privilege to get warm, just flashed the card. After that was established the
    rangers were right proper hosts. They showed me their computer screen playing the endless NOAA radar loop of the area and I was able to see that
    with an hours wait the storm would be blown north of us. They shared some coffee and moved my things back to a space heater in one of the offices.
    And for the next hour or so I entertained the visitors that kept asking how can you ride in rain like today? You take it one mile at a time my friends, one
    mile at a time.

    Near the end, an interesting chap pulled in. He was from Santa Cruz and out to do some 4x4ing in the back country. I'd passed him about 30 miles short of
    the Monument where he was parked looking up a muddy dirt road. He came in saying I guess you know how to stay dry out there and we got to talking.
    We were both on adventures and had a fine time sharing notes. He'll do. Turns out he was really, really thinking about going up that dirt road and took
    the better part of an hour before deciding to ask the rangers first. Showed the smarts not to be stupid.

    It was back on the bike and I headed for Bloomfield, NM. As I got past Blanding a new band of showers started coming through that I didn't clear until I
    was east of Shiprock. While I'd spent a good bit of time at Natural Bridges, the rain had kept me on the bike and its was still early though I'd put in nearly
    250 miles before making a gas stop. A good bit of rain riding. Coming into Bloomfield I saw the sign for the Salmon Ruins and with the sun shining bright I
    pulled off for a look see. As Anasazi ruins go, they are so-so.
    [​IMG]
    The National Parks and Monuments are way better, but it is an interesting place. I've been rooting through ruins like these for years and you start to recognize
    similarities. What stuck out here was the number of Kivas for such a small area. Everything from the big ones to the little personal ones.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Reading the guide book I learned while they know people did live hear, they don't think it was a regular village. The number of Kivas has them thinking
    this was a religious center of some type. When I read the 'scholarly' stuff on the Anasazi I am amazed at dense their interpretations seem to be. I consider
    myself a licensed historian, I do have the BA, and it seems so dumb. You have the Zuni, Hopi and Paiute that all claim they are descendants of the Anasazi.
    Anasazi is just a Navajo word translated to mean ancient enemy. Good indication the Navajo fought with the Anasazi you would think. The Hopi and Zuni
    have traditions of these battles. The cowboys that buckarooed had long noticed similarities between dwellings built out in the open and in the cliffs.
    They also noticed those out in the open looked older and the ones in the cliffs looked as if from time to time the people had come back and repaired
    fallen walls and sometimes it looked as if this had happened several times over. You might think a smart man would put it together such that the Hopi,
    Zuni and Paiute were a people that had a pretty good life until the Navajo started migrating down - the Navajo tongue, for all its wind talker code stuff,
    is rooted in the language of Pacific North West tribes. And in this fighting, while it see-sawed back and forth, the Navajo eventually won forcing the 'Anasazi'
    back to where the Spanish found the Hopi and Zuni. The Paiute may have been some far flung collection of trading outposts that were cut off by all of this.
    But the 'official' historians seem loathe to make the step from the name Anasazi to a war over territory.

    By know I was finally starting to feel warmed up and decided the 300+ miles were enough for the day and I found a Super 8 and soaked in the hot tube for
    a couple of hours. just sat there with the water up to the overflow drain and just enough hot water trickling in so as not to let it cool. By the time I finished
    my dinner I figured best to make tomorrow an easy day. I take the pavement to Taos, pull in early and change the rear tire. I'd started on a used GP1 and
    had planned to put a new one on sometime during the trip. The weather was forecast to be nice tomorrow, but wet towards the weekend. While the tire
    was good for another three days it seemed best to get done on the one for sure dry day.

    As for side notes today. Four Corners: glad to see the Navajo have a steady source of income but I passed it by. In Navajo Nation it is easy to spot the
    Traditionals, they will have a hogan and more than likely living in one. Interestingly, they haven't gotten hung up on traditional construction. As long as
    it is the traditional shape, follows religious traditions in its layout it can be built as modern as you like it, just have a smaller, more traditional hogan for
    your religious ceremonies. Interesting to see how much oil boom is going on in that corner of New Mexico. At the Super 8 got to talking with an oil worker,
    specializes in pipeline building in nasty terrain, and its keeping him busy. Also learned that Super 8 and EconoLodge are doing a brisk trade as a poor
    mans Extended Stay Inn for these folks. The Super 8 in Bloomfield only had a few rooms that were available because of all the workers on extended
    stay. Something to salt away for future reference. might need to think ahead to insure a room at this places during the summer.
    #11
  12. lasvegasrider

    lasvegasrider To the edge of the continents

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,613
    Location:
    Vegas
    :freakyDamn fine report Pat!:freaky


    :lurk :lurk
    #12
  13. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,631
    Location:
    Gardnerville, Nv
    Reached that point in the trip where the only way I can remember the day of the week is to count down from the day I left. Work, its just a rumor of a
    plague that exists in another reality . . .

    Woke up, turned on the Weather Channel. Things looked to still be ugly back in Utah, but nothing but cloudy skies today. That's good enough for me. But
    then I hear a school bus was stranded south of Hanksville. They are interviewing the bus driver, a local old timer, who said he'd seen it rain that hard and
    he'd seen it rain that long but he'd never seen it rain that hard for that long. Whoa! Check the other news channels and Utah's canyon lands have been
    pounded by the rain and the prediction is for more. Right then and there I was glad I hadn't gone north for Colorado and that I hadn't decided to fort up
    like the HD riders had. By the weekend the weather will be over New Mexico so I'll need to be in west Texas by Friday or risk another day in the rain.
    Time to create plan B.

    So I head across the street for breakfast, taking my DeLorme Gazetteers for some study. So far I'd been loosely following the Old Spanish Trail from
    Pioche to New Mexico. Back in the early 1800s, as the pueblo of Los Angles was growing in importance a trading route was found from Santa Fe. It followed
    old, well established Indian trails that went towards what is now Green River, UT, and then back down to Los Angles crossing the Mojave Desert south
    of Death Valley. Seems a round about way to get to LA, but when you take into account the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts along with the Colorado River
    this was about the only way to take a pack train. In this corner of the world I had hoped to pay my fees to have a chance to ride my KLR in Monument
    Valley but the rain put the damper on that. It didn't look like there was much choice but make for Texas and weather the storm out.

    Oh well, being this was going to be the easy day, I headed for Aztec to kill the morning. Aztec is a little town north of Bloomfield with Anasazi ruins. Seems
    they thought the ruins were connected with the Aztecs of Mexico. They got that one wrong. Salmon Ruins was nice, Aztec National Monument was nicer and
    there was quite a bit more.
    [​IMG]

    This is only about half of the actual site, The rest has been left buried and is off to the right of the picture. Before becoming a National Monument, the
    place was privately owned and excavated and the building in the lower right is their reconstruction of the main Kiva they found. Interesting place to ponder.
    This place was occupied twice. The first, where the Chacoan Culture as they call it. And the second period was the Mesa Verde Culture as it retreated
    south from Mesa Verde. They built with a different styles that can be seen in this shot. The front wall is built by the Mesa Verde Indians and the back wall
    is Chaco, where you can see three rows of smaller rocks between the rows if bigger rocks. On the left, the Mesa Verde Wall buts up to Chaco wall.
    [​IMG]
    And you can see it in this picture again. In fact you can see where the wall has been rebuilt three times.
    [​IMG]

    And along two facades of the out wall I saw something I hadn't seen before, obvious decoration.
    [​IMG]

    In its final form this place was something like 500 rooms and three stories. But its not like they built it all at once. Over time, as inner walls started to bulge
    or lean they would use the room as a garbage pit, back filling it to make strong, and then they added another room some where else. And they have
    found bodies in these back filled rooms. Not enough bodies to explain it a a regular practice, but enough to say these folks went for periods when they
    were not able to dispose of their dead in the normal fashion and so people were buried as part of the back fill. Interestingly they have discovered the
    back filled rooms were also used as latrines. Rooting around this place reminded me of something I read in L'Amour's novel, The Lonesome Gods:
    Maybe I've smoked too much whaky tabacky, but you walk up to one of these walls and you start looking close and you can see the finger strokes of the
    people that packed the mud motor between the rocks, and at some ruins I have photographed ancient fingerprints, and it doesn't take a whole lot of
    imagination to feel connected. Northwest of here, on the way to the Bullfrog Ferry from Bluff there is a small ruin just up off the highway. Nothing but a
    small overhang with room for a half dozen rooms, but at the left end of this place there is a white hand print, which they say is the healing hand, on the
    wall. How can you not walk through places like this and feel the life force of those that where once here?
    [​IMG]

    Can you not see women working, children playing?
    [​IMG]

    Other than that, it turned out yesterday's ride had taken a bit more out of me than I had expected. My back was sore, arms stiff. But I'd make Taos in 200
    miles, three hours in the saddle. Rode through some more of those butt ugly southwest landscape found under boring skies.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Crossed the Continental Divide
    [​IMG]

    And got into Taos by mid-afternoon. Got my room, got a couple of cold beers and set down to put that new tire on the rear. Mostly the GP1 is easy on and
    off, but every so often you get tight one and this was one of them. I have my old trick of slipping one tire iron through the loop in the end of the other
    so I can get the leverage to twist one spoon between the rim and the tire. An hour into the job and I still do not have the first bead busted. It is getting
    frustrating. The rounded end of the spoon just isn't getting enough purchase to push the bead off that last quarter inch.

    I start looking around for what to try. Then I spots the axle nut wrenches I carry that came from an Venture Royale toolkit (Thank you Mike T., bet you
    didn't know you'd donated them). The square end at the end! I put a tire iron through the box end, set that squared off end between the rim and the
    tire bead and with a couple of twists she was free. Hot Damn! They've been putting them type of wrenches in Japanese MC Toolkits as far back as I can
    remember, first time I figured out you could use them that way. Never too old to learn new tricks, though I'm thinking I should have caught that one a
    might sooner.

    I get up to the room and figure to soak my aching muscles in the tube again, just as soon as I finish that second beer. So I laid back to enjoy some rhyming
    cowboy musings with that beer. I never finished that second beer. I was somewhere between

    We had all hit the town about the same time, and
    We had six months pay in our polks
    It was easy to say that before the end of our stay
    We'd all leave for ranches plum broke

    and

    There was two or three gals we considered our pals
    All them as ungly as sin
    But to us son-of-a-guns a-looking for fun
    It didn't matter much right then

    when the alarm went off the next morning.
    #13
  14. PackMule

    PackMule love what you do

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    19,493
    Location:
    New Hampshah
    #14
  15. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Oddometer:
    30,207
    Location:
    San Antonio, Tx
    The guy can write! :clap
    #15
  16. AK-57

    AK-57 Yay

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    132
    Location:
    Pyramid Peak
    Nice trip report. Would you talk a little about your camera set up? Specifically I would like to know how you did the panoramic shots.
    #16
  17. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,631
    Location:
    Gardnerville, Nv
    Several of the Canon digital cameras, such as the PowerShot line, have a special mode called the Stitch mode. In this mode the camera adds extra info so the photos can be laid end to end and LCD view screen helps you line up the shots with the right overlap. The Canon software understands how to stitch these photos into a panorama.

    I am waiting for the Canon digital Rebel to come down a bit lower in price, I have a optically corrected extreme wide angle zoom lens for my film Rebel that will make these shots nice.

    Update May 2009:
    An outfit named Arcsoft has a software package called Panorama Maker that lets you stitch together a panorama taken with any camera. You just need to provide a bit of overlap between your shots and it does a wondrous job. It came with my new Panasonic DMC FZ28 and I'll tell you it beats anything I have seen. As hard as I try and can't find the stitched seem .
    #17
  18. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,631
    Location:
    Gardnerville, Nv
    Yesterday afternoon I laid down to do some reading and the next thing I know its morning. Between the Roost and the storm I must have pushed myself
    a bit more than I thought, but I'm feeling good to go. Might want to start doing the Advil routine, that rotator cuff they put back together is waking up a
    bit slower than the rest. And its going to be nice not having that tire poking me in the back. My room had the little coffee maker and I've learned to carry
    the Maxwell Filter Packs so I can have it cowboy strong. I take that first sip and get that good tingly feel radiating down my spine and across my shoulders.
    Flick on the local channel and the Albuquerque Balloon Festival is in threat from the weather. What ever the prelim event was this AM didn't happen.
    Back to the Weather Channel and it looks like I got a 50/50 chance to get out of New Mexico dry unless I make a run for Texas today. But I'll risk it, today
    I'll be riding through the land Louis L'Amour choose to chronicle the adventures of Sacketts and I wanted to savor it all.

    From Taos I'd head for Fort Union and then head for Lincoln County. On the first leg, to Ft. Union, I'd be crossing from the southern end of the Rockies
    onto the southern end of the Great Plains where the Santa Fe Trail comes in. In the days of yore you'd want to be a might careful traveling these lands.
    It was full of Comanch, 'Pache and Kiowa braves. Use dry wood for your fires and make sure to build them deep in the trees so these dissipate what
    little smoke there is. Keep checking your back trail to make sure you taint followed. And you'd best be keeping a sharp look out for the least little glint,
    like seeing the sparkle of sunlight on a car windshield 8 or 10 miles out. Ain't nothing animal, plant or mineral that's going to do that and you surely don't
    want whatever it was finding you. Yep, a man that wasn't careful might loose his hair.

    That's the way I would be traveling. Paying attention. Not traffic, I mean these roads had been as empty as anything back in Nevada. What attention
    the lack of traffic was freeing up was going to go into just being aware of what was off to either side of the road, back up in that scenery. Just looking
    for anything that didn't fit in with just trees, rocks and animals. I just wanted that feel of traveling with a different type of caution. As I'm going along
    the road signs are pointing to places I've read of in L'Amour's books. The man did his homework. The geography of his stories is as you'll find it. The places
    are there. The distances match up and what he describes is what you see. Meandering my way to Fort Union at nearly every turn it was . . . that's were
    Tell and Cap Roundtree . . . over there Nolan and Aunt Em Talon, another Clich Mountain Sackett . . . and that must be where Tyrell. Before I knew it,
    there was the Fort.

    Now, this weren't really ever a Fort in that it had a stockade or anything around it. More like an outpost. A collection of buildings placed around the parade
    ground. Most the buildings were built of adobe and when the post was abandoned, the timbers were sold off as surplus and everything started melting
    away until about all that is left isn't much.
    [​IMG]

    You're looking down Officers Row on the left. The upper end was the Quartermaster Depot and down the right were the barracks and corrals. Ft. Union
    was both a Cavalry Outpost and a supply depot, as well as having weapons repair armory. The Supply Depot is nearly as big as the Cavalry half, together
    they give you a parade ground large enough to lay out a mile flat track. And the corrals off to the right, figure they held about a 1000 or more horses
    and mules out there. The one part of the fort that is still mostly intact is the old Mechanics Shops and Barracks.
    [​IMG]
    The shops were along the left and across the top, with their barracks down the right. You walk around these old forts and they mostly follow the same
    layout. Officers quarters. Usually a provided room for four bachelors, two married officers, or a family. Officers row either faced across the parade grounds
    to the barracks, or you would have officers at the head of the parade ground, barracks down one side and the hospital, Quartermasters, post buildings
    down the other side. Each barracks had it's own mess. Married enlisted men, noncoms got there own rooms, but it was never anything official so each
    post did it there own way. Quite often the enlisted men's wives would also do laundry or hire out as domestics to the officers. On a large post like this,
    odds would be the officer's brought in a good number of single women as their housekeeper's and many of them married enlisted men. Interestingly,
    here at Fort Union, the rooms for the married enlisted men were built along the sides of the corrals.

    And Fort Union was the main supply depot for all the other forts along the Santa Fe Trail. I had a good chuckle over the Park Service's marking of the
    Santa Fe Trail as it passed the fort. They marked it as if it were this single set of ruts, but the Santa Fe Trail, wagons traveled abreast to keep out of each
    other's dust, and depending on the time of year or which Indians were restless you make take a somewhat altered route so the Santa Fe Trail was really a
    network of trails that all went more or less the same way so as you look out on the prairie from Fort Union any two set of ruts or deep draw is as likely
    to be a part of the trail as anything else. Something they didn't point out as they talked of the trail. What they were pointing out was that section that
    was used by folks stopping at the fort and the trail came through long before the fort was built.

    After leaving Fort Union it wasn't long before I crossed the Pecos River and the light bulbs went on. The history of the American cowboy starts in Texas
    were he learned his trade from the caballeros of old Mexico. As they went looking for new pastures, they followed the Pecos and Rio Grande into this
    part of New Mexico and from here up to Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. Having come down the Old Spanish Trail, crossed the Santa Fe Trail and Pecos
    I could see how the geography of this one corner connected everything. And as you travel out here, noticing the dates the old historic towns were founded,
    its all within a few years, 1879-1881. Once the Indians were pacified folks moved into this country and spread out right quick.

    All these things are running through my head. My mind is making out cattle drives, wagon trains, mule trains, stagecoaches, buckboard, spring wagons,
    mail wagons and most anything that would go with the rapid expansion of all that town creation. Before you know it I've crossed into Lincoln County
    and my mind turns to the Lincoln County War. What with the weather forecasts, I'd forgone trying to go off into any dirt, sticking the the pavement so to
    get as much distance between me and that storm. Part of this plan B was to spend the better part of a day in Lincoln. The tourist literature mostly describes
    it as a living ghost town with a very good accounting of the war.

    And I reach Carrizozo, a small town at the intersection of US380 and US54. I can either stay here or go on to Reduiso for the night. This should have
    been a no brainer. Carrizozo, well its a dieing little town. Gots three motels, the best looking was showing No Vacancy and neither of the others were
    looking to good. Well, this was an adventure so I should at least spend one night in a town like this. So here's the joint that won, the Four Winds.
    [​IMG]
    The place across the street was the looser. Don't look bad from here, but the closer you got the dingier it looked. And for $35 bucks I got a good room.
    Not quite the equal of the Clown Motel in Tonopah, NV, but close. It was clean. It was spacious. Every thing worked. The ice machine worked. The room
    had a small refrigerator and a microwave. And for staying at the motel you got 10% off your meals at the cafe just up the road, which was a pretty good
    deal. Had one of the best meals of the trip and some of the best service. Had to chuckle at the sign on the door inside the room. Claimed the Four Winds
    was one of New Mexico's finest establishments. But all in all, I'd come back again. If you are in the neighborhood looking for a room I'd recommend it.

    Notice I didn't get many pictures today. Well, I was just into drinking in the atmosphere I just never thought about it. Not that I didn't have chances.
    Took plenty of breaks, just got so into the daydreaming I forgot all about that camera. I was:

    Just a ridin', a ridin',
    spliting long cracks in the air
    Stiring up a baby cyclone,
    ripping up the prickly pear When I'm ridin'

    Just a ridin', a ridin',
    desert rippling in the sun
    Mountains blue along the skyline
    who can envy anyone when I'm ridin'

    'Bout this time I realized, life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.
    #18
  19. lasvegasrider

    lasvegasrider To the edge of the continents

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,613
    Location:
    Vegas
    Hey Pat, have you seen the Venture Royales Axle Wrenches? Oh ya, they are in your tool roll! I am happy to know they are so useful on such a tight GP-1 tire...:lol3

    :freaky Love the report Pat!:freaky
    #19
  20. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,631
    Location:
    Gardnerville, Nv
    Lets see, I've got Howard Hawk's Red River playing on the DVD so I think I'm ready to start into to this day's ride. We have one disclaimer to make before jumping into today's episode, next time someone tells you all that stuff in western fiction never happened remember what you heard here . . .

    The Weather Channel has become a morning ritual. Hurricanes out in the South Pacific are sending a stream of moisture across the southwest and as a low off Los Angles started moving inland it was generating some heavy rain. Today's forecast had the rain spreading into eastern New Mexico, but not until late afternoon so I had plenty of time to escape to Texas. But first there was to be a stop in Lincoln.

    Along the way I stumbled onto the Smokey Bear Historical Park. Seems it was in the hills just outside of Captain where a Forest Ranger found Smokey clinging to a burned up tree. [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I had to take a brief stop just to look see. I mean, Smokey and I were born about the same year and I was one of the first generations to learn only you can prevent forest fires. To this day when I'm in the woods that message is always in the back of my mind, or maybe its the four years I spent working on a Forest Service Hot Shot Fire Crew, but I had to stop long enough to see the park wasn't much beyond public information announcement.

    The highway through here is following Las Rio Bonitas, which lined this valley along its length. As I've been dropping through New Mexico I've gotten use to the old 'dobes dotting the landscape. Often they are next to a modern house. Knowing how fast adobe melts away when folks stop maintaining the walls, some of the old buildings look to have been occupied right into the 50s. Get the feeling that the old adobes didn't fall out of style until the single wide immobile mobile home became cheap housing. The first sign I'm nearing Lincoln is the increasing number of old adobes along the road. Then I come around a corner and there is the old Dolan-Murphy Store.

    Today's exploration had nothing to do with motorcycles. You can't get into this western history without sooner or later being drawn into the story of Billy the Kid, perhaps the most romanticized dry gulcher from the old west. There's a great line from John Ford's 'Who Killed Liberty Valence': When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. And that sums up what passes for the story of Billy we keep hearing on the History Channel. Lincoln, center of that infamous Lincoln War Billy fought, has nearly 20 buildings left from those days and five of them are used for museums strung out along a walking tour, $5 is the price of admission. Today I was going to explore the story of the Lincoln County War.

    First stop was the Dolan-Murphy store. Found out some interesting background. Murphy and Dolan had both been part of the Army at Fort Stanton, They were both Irishmen that had found careers in the Army during the Civil War and came to New Mexico with the Army. Fort Stanton was mostly under the command of fellow Irish officers. They left the Army with grand plans to gain political and economic control of Lincoln County by being able to use their contacts to monopolize the supply contracts with the Army. In very short order they had set up a mercantile that rapidly gained a reputation for over pricing and predatory credit practices to gain control of property through foreclosure. Locally, they were known as a couple of nasty men you couldn't trust further than you could spit into a storm gale. And there were rumors they were involved in cattle rustling as well.
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    That's when they ran into Chisum and Tunstall. John Chisum is a real character. He was already a famous cattle man, but not famous enough for his ambitions. He had a cancer and he came to New Mexico for the chance to make a lasting mark on this world. He began by laying claim to all the land along the Pecos from the Texas Border to north of Roswell by 'right of discovery', a Texican way of saying I was here first. Then he registered his brand, the running bar. That's right, just a single straight line. Type of brand that would be easy to cover with most any other brand. Figure that brand to be a warning sign to any would be rustler. As tempting and as easy as it might be to alter, Chisum was saying try it, but be ready to deal with the real hard case, me. If you come after my cattle you better come ready to open the ball 'cause I've paid for the fiddler. One of these days I'm going to learn how that saying came to be, but it is authentic western slang for be ready to fight 'cause I am. If a man were to deliberately pushing you into a fight, a real badman might answer, If you want to open the ball, I'll play your tune. Chsium had good reason to believe Murphy and Dolan were hiring the rustlers stealing his stock to sell to Army beef and using a running bar for a brand was his way of telling Murphy and Dolan be ready to play my tune.

    Now Tunstall, he was English nobility looking for a cattle ranch to invest in. Murhpy and Dolan tried to take him on a crooked real estate deal. Sounds like somewhere behind this must be some of that natural hatred the Irish had for British Nobility, like trying to mix oil and water. Why Tunstall choose this spot to build a ranch, why Tunstall decided to open a honest mercantile to compete, sounds like a bitter feud that started with these ancient roots. Tunstall's dander was up after that crooked real estate and he wasn't going to let no Irish Mick trash tell him what he could and couldna do. Now add into this McSween. He was a lawyer who started working for Murphy and Dolan. Now Dolan had married the daughter of an officer at Fort Stanton. This officer had gone on a trip to Europe and had the bad luck to die, but the good luck to get a life insurance policy before leaving.

    The officer's only surviving single daughter was trying to get the insurance company to pay out, while at the same time Murphy and Dolan were trying to lay claim to the insurance payment to cover debts they claimed to hold from the officer. The insurance company decides it ain't paying, claiming the office died of consumption, a pre-existing condition not covered by the policy. After two lawyers failed, the daughter is steered to McSween by Dolan. Now this is about the time McSween is married, to a very ambitious young lady and in a short time McSween is claiming Dolan is trying to scam the insurance company and goes into business with Tunstall.

    So now Murphy and Dolan claim McSween and Tunstall have managed to negotiate with the insurance company and are withholding the funds rightfully due them to pay the officer's debts. Using their political connections they get a warrant against Tunstall, that once served, gives Murphy and Dolan ownership of all Tunstall property and wealth as the just due in this squabble. And of course, knowing what is coming, and knowing that Murhpy and Dolan have hired a good number of gunmen, what were known as fighting ranch hands, Tunstall and Chisujm begin hiring their own fighting ranch hands. Men that were good with gun, men that weren't afraid of a fight and men that would unquestionably ride for the brand. This brings us up to day it all blows up.

    Now the Tunstall Ranch was a good two or three day ride from Lincoln. Tunstall and a few of his fighting hands were riding into town for supplies. The Murphy-Dolan Gang were waiting in ambush. They caught Tunstall while his hands were off chasing some game in the brush. The Murphy-Dolan Gang they made an example of Tunstall, filling him with lead, and after he was already dead they blew his head off. And Billy did witness this and the rest is, as they say, history.

    And so the war exploded, and it became a nasty, take no prisoners a fare. As we know, Chisum died of cancer and McSweeny and his store were burned to ground, with Mcsween being killed while Billy and his gang made a break for it through blazing gunfire. Yet, by this point Murphy was bankrupt and sold out to Dolan, who sold most of those assets, including the store, to pay the debt. The store was then converted into the county jail in time for Billy's famous jail break. But before going into that episode we need to go back to the miraculous escape from the McSween store during the siege. Turns out it may not have been all that amazing.
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    That's a shot of the rebuilt store. The vacant lot to the left is where the original store stood. About 100' behind these building is the Rio Bonitas. You can see it wooded and there is a lot of brush there too. They escaped from the back of the store across the creek. And on the other side of the creek were about 30-40 Mexicans that were fighting on the side of McSween and Billy's Regulators. That's the other side of this story you never see in the movies. It seems the people of Lincoln and the surrounding countryside sided with the McSween/Tunstall faction. The reason Murhpy called in help from the Fort is 'cause the good people of Lincoln had his forces pinned down with sharp shooters sitting in an old fort. Which had been built by the Mexicans as protection against the Apache. It was this supporting gunfire that laid the cover for Billy and his friends to escape out a side door and across the Rio Bonitas.
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    With this episode both sides have basically destroyed each other and peace finally came. But as we know, Billy was having none of that because he had a score to settle and he kept striking out at whatever was left of Dolan's Gang, settling old vendaettas - when he shot the sheriff and his deputy from ambush, that was from behind a wall across the street from the rebuilt store. His great jail escape was from the old Murhpy-Dolan store. Most likely story is someone planted a revolver in the outhouse for Billy to find. He used to gun to kill the deputy what escorted him to the privy. Then he waited in ambush from the second story window of the jail to kill the second deputy with that deputy's own shotgun. Billy just became the leader of the die hards that just wouldn't let go. And it goes a long way to explaining why Billy was a popular anti-hero, he was on the side of the good guys and for being a dry gulcher, in a battle like this, history shows this was an accepted way of fighting in those days, do unto others before they do unto you.

    Of all the movies, Young Guns is closest to having it right, though it does embellish a lot. The folks are the actual players in this passion play. Dick Brewer was hired to be a fighting segundo, but wasn't up to the task and with his death Billy just slipped into the role. Chavez y Chavez, he was one of the Mexicans that did ride with Billy, but lived out his natural life in Lincoln. Doc actually had some medical training, went back to Texas and refused to ever discuss the war. Dirty Dave Ruhdabaug was married to Doc's sister-in-law, nothing like the movie. McSween's wife married a local, built a cattle empire, got divorced and lived out her life as the Lincoln County Cattle Queen. Murphy, about ten years later was back on his feet, involved in state politics and decided to take a political appointment in Lincoln County, built his home across the street from the site of the McSween/Tunstall store and lived out the remainder of his life a bitter man.
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    As you look down the Lincoln Main Street from the Murphy-Dolan Store. Down the street you can see the rebuilt store and the vacant lot and the covered porch is the hotel Pat Garrett used to run. Small town, uh? When Billy escaped from the jail, he shot down the deputy with a shotgun right out in that street. Then he strolled out of the jail, got the loan of a horse and rode out of town with out any single person raising an objection. Either Billy was that bad of a badman, or he had a lot of sympathy from the townsfolk who'd just as soon be rid of the last of Dolan's bought law.
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    So there you have it. While Billy got the lime light, he was just a bit player swept up in affairs he couldn't understand. He hired on for a fight and it just wasn't over in his mind. As for the rest of the story, next time anyone tells you that western fiction about a gang of outlaws trying to take over a town never happened, you'll know better. The story played out in Johnson County and Tombstone as well, to name a few. Just remember, fact is often stranger than any fiction you'll ever read.

    Oh, and as I was getting ready to leave, the Rat Pack pulled in. Two Honda 750 Nighthawks and two 750 Magnas. This has to be one of the better rat bikes I've seen. I truely admire the suicide shift he has built. Notice the hardtail conversion as well. And his partner's version of a tail trunk is interesting. They were form Texas heading north. I warned them about the rain, but they weren't worried.
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    Had another great conversation in Lincoln I almost forgot. I was walking back up the street when the Lincoln County Deputy Sheriff, John Cox, pulled up. next to me. First thing he asks, 'Is that your KLR back up at the store? Yea, where are you coming from? Nevada? Where you going to? Big Bend? You must be having a great trip. Turns out John had recently sold his KLR and picked up a DR. Being an old hippie I'm taking by the irony of this. Not a 100 yards back up the street I'd walked down to river to smoke some of the herb I'm known to carry on occasion and here I was having a most excellent conversation with the law. Hopefully John will accept I should not be able to incriminate myself as he was looking for some good advice on tricking out his DR so I pointed him this way and for all I know he could be reading this tale. John had a friend in town that does this stuff on a GS1150, he was sorry John was off to town for his monthly shopping as he'd most likely want a chance to talk shop. Before leaving, John gave me his business card and said if I ever had trouble in Lincoln County to call him. And I believe I could. He said it motorcyclist to motorcyclist which is as good as brother to brother.

    So as to segue back to two wheels, here's one of the things that got left in Lincoln.[​IMG]
    That's a pretty lacing pattern on the front wheel. You always see pictures of folks either riding or standing next to these things. Never see them stopping or taking off. That had to be a mighty awkward moment. Seems it would have made more sense to just build a big wheel unicycle.
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    From here on out, the ride became great plains boring. This is when I really wished the KLR had the 6th gear, it would have been right nice to help reel in the horizon. Hard to imagine crossing this country 10-15 miles a day looking at the rear end longhorns the whole way. To spend the day eating dust and the only thing you have to show for it is you're standing on a different flat spot. I start thinking about the sand it took to ride from can see to can't see for several months, working night shifts, dealing with stampedes, sleeping in the rain and every other hardship imaginable thrown into the deal and you know what, the Iron Butt don't prove squat! It don't even begin to explore of real endurance. If you don't think so, just go join a 1500 mile cattle drive and find out! Maybe the cattle only traveled 10-12 miles, but the cowboy traveled far enough keeping the cattle moving to go through 2-3 horses every day, he'd start the trip with a string of 4-6. I think the motorcycle equivalent would be a complete summer of 500 mile days with an additional 150 miles every night. No motels, you camp out every night. No time off unless you're too sick to sit a saddle. And the chuck? At least it filled your belly, kept it from getting too neighborly with your backbone.

    Not to belittle the folks that have done the Iron Butt because it is nothing to sneeze at. Yet, you look back in time and there is no shortage of examples where endurance was measured by a whole different high bar than we have today. You want to get a feel for what it was like, go find yourself a copy of 'The Log of a Cowboy, A narrative of the old trail days' by Andy Adams. Or pick up anything that tells about the patrols of the 9th and 10th Cavalry out of Fort Davis. Those boys made a regular practice of the old Apache trick of riding your horse until it drops and eating it to go on, rations on the hoof so to speak. While doing a Iron Butt is an amazing feat, it don't quite hold up against what people use to do as nothing more than a way to live.

    While lost in this thoughts, I finally made to Texas.
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    Like I was saying.Things get might flat out here. Seems no matter how far you go the only thing that changes is the numbers on your odometer and you better than look at it, it will only make time go slower. I was making for Pecos and Fort Stockton beyond. I'd planned for loosing the hour as I crossed into the Central Time Zone, but it seemed like the sun was dropping awful fast. Then I got it figured out, while I was on Central Time the sun was still on Mountain time. One of those quirks of riding out here. Arizona doesn't do daylight savings so they are on Mountain Time, which during daylight savings is the same as Pacific Time. Now in the old days, they'd figure when the sun was straight over head and set their clocks to noon. So pretty much every body was in a different time zone and train schedules were interesting to read. I kept running these comparisons between then and now through my head to occupy the emptiness of my views. And then I was in Fort Stockton.

    Settled into the EconoLodge, mostly filled with SP track workers, and for the first time since Torrey there are other bikers there. The meetings with other bikers have been rare and there a dozen others here. Mostly in from other locations in Texas for the weekend in Big Bend as well. Learn the place for breakfast is going to be one the road to Big Bend, in Marathon so its back to the room to study some maps and dinner. Tonight the pangs of civilization of hit me. I must have PIZZA and hotel literature lists a delivery service. Tomorrow, I'd reach my goal, the Rio Grande.
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